The second of two men accused of fatally shooting an ostrich named Gaylord while drunkenly trespassing at a Half Moon Bay ranch on Halloween night pleaded no contest to felony animal cruelty Friday with hopes that a judge will reduce the count to a misdemeanor at sentencing.
Timothy Andrew McKevitt, 19, agreed to the deal to avoid his trial scheduled for Monday. His plea bargain also comes months after co-defendant Jonathon Michael Porter, 20, took a plea for an immediate sentence of 213 days already served in prison plus three years supervised probation and court-ordered animal cruelty counseling.
If convicted by a jury, McKevitt faced up to three years in prison. Instead, the plea bargain offers McKevitt the chance of a year in jail plus probation and restitution when sentenced Aug. 28.
The two were arrested Nov. 7 after confessing to the owner of the ostrich about trespassing on a ranch south of Half Moon Bay in the early morning hours of Oct. 31. The two told the ostrich owner they left a party and wanted to see the three ostriches on the property.
Prosecutors claim the men went with a group of drunken friends to see the animals — Gaylord, Apple and Tomato — the first time and then specifically returned with guns by themselves later that night.
Gaylord’s owner Karen Schmidt tracked down the pair on her own after discovering her 10-year-old deceased pet lying near the front gate. A neighbor reported hearing several consecutive shots fired and rifle and shotgun shell casings were discovered next to Gaylord.
Schmidt posted reward fliers at coastside businesses and within hours had an idea of who was responsible. During a discussion with the two defendants and one’s father she said they claimed to be attacked by the startled ostrich. One man suffered two broken ribs and the other suffered scratches to his arm. Fearing for their safety, the men fired seven shots from a shotgun and a rifle.
Porter and McKevitt offered to replace the ostrich but Schmidt declined and turned the men in to the Sheriff’s Office.
McKevitt and Porter both pleaded not guilty to felony animal abuse but Porter changed his mind at a Feb. 8 pre-trial conference. At the time of his negotiated plea, Porter also admitted being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was on probation for grand theft in March 2005.
McKevitt is free from custody on a $25,000 bail bond.
Michelle Durand can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.